In the fall of 2018, Callie Brownson made history when she became the first woman hired as a full-time Division 1 football coach. After paying her dues as an intern, she was given a chance that she never really thought possible.
“Women as it pertained to working in the industry of football just never came up, it was never really a thing that anybody talked about. You never heard anybody talking about getting on the field as a woman, getting involved in coaching player personnel, it just was not a topic of conversation.”
Little did she know it but Callie Brownson would soon indeed become the topic of conversation. Growing up, Brownson was “one of the guys;” you name it, she played it. It wasn’t until her freshman year of high school when she asked about playing for the men’s football team that she came to a shocking realization. She would not be allowed to play and would have to express her passion for football from the sidelines.
“I felt like my time or my future of playing was over and that I was going to have to just settle with being a spectator, a fan really, for the rest of my life.”
She made her way back onto the field at age 19 when she suited up for the D.C. Divas in the Women’s Football Alliance. For once in her life, she was playing alongside women who were just as passionate as she was.
“Here was a group of women who were told the same things, but still showed up every day and gave it everything they had and were happy to even have the opportunity to do it.”
Brownson would go on to become a five-time team captain and four-time All-American. At 21, she became an assistant football coach at her alma mater, Mount Vernon High School in Northern Virginia. Her success would continue to flourish as a coach for the first women’s clinic at the Manning Passing Academy and later the first full-time female football coach at Dartmouth.
Brownson believes that there is no better time to be a woman in football than right now, whether it’s as a player, a coach, or a scout. As a child, Brownson could never have dreamt of becoming an influential person in football.
“And now it’s an actual possibility and something that girls talk about. And I’ve had so many people write me saying, you know, my daughter said that she wants to grow up and be a football coach. And to me that’s what it’s all about. We’ve now broken down this barrier of whether it’s possible. It is. It 100% is.”
Parlaying her success at Dartmouth, she was hired as a scouting intern for the New York Jets, and later a full-time intern for the Buffalo Bills. In 2020, she became the Chief of Staff of the Cleveland Browns bringing her one step closer to her ultimate dream of being a head coach at the collegiate or NFL level. Callie Brownson is certainly a coach to keep an eye on as her star continues to rise.